A BarBarian's Guide to the XXL 2017 Freshman Class

It's that time of the year again, yup that's right . . .  it's time for the annual XXL Freshman Class. If you haven't heard of some these guys don't worry the BarBarians have your cheat sheet right here.

Kamaiyah (Oakland, CA)

Notable Songs: Fuck It Up - Feat. YG,  How Does It Feel

  • Things to Know:

    • Kamaiyah has collaborated with both YG and Drake

    • Kamaiyah is the only female rapper of this XXL Class

    • Kamaiyah is signed to Interscope and plans to release a full album at the end of 2017

 

A Boogie With Da Hoodie (Bronx, NY)

Notable Songs: Timeless, Drowning - Feat. Kodak Black

  • Things to Know:

    • A Boogie opened for Drake during his Summer Sixteen Tour 

    • A Boogie is currently opening on Future’s Nobody Safe Tour

    • A Boogie plans to release his next mixtape titled "ARToven" with award-winning producer Zaytoven in early August

PNB Rock (Philadelphia, PA)

Notable Songs: Selfish, Misunderstood

  • Things to Know:

    • PNB just released a new freestyle over French Montana's single "Unforgettable"

    • PNB features on Kodak Black’s song, Too Many Years and is the highlight on the song

 

XXXTentacion (Lauderhill, FL)

Notable Songs: Look At Me!, I don’t wanna do this anymore

  • Things to Know:

    • XXX was arrested for allegedly beating his pregnant girlfriend

    • XXX was recently sucker punched on stage while performing in San Diego by an alleged affiliate of  San Diego rapper Rob $tone

    • XXX claimed Drake stole his flow from his hit single "Look At Me!" On Drake’s Song K.M.T from "More Life"

Playboi Carti (Atlanta, GA)

Notable Songs: Magnolia, Fetti, woke up like this

  • Things to Know:

    • Carti is A$AP Rocky’s protege, however he is not part of the A$AP mob

    • Carti recently released his self titled debut album in April

    • Carti is one of the front-runners of the new “mumble rap” trend

MADEINTYO (Atlanta, GA)

Notable Songs: Uber Everywhere, Skateboard P, Kelly Rowland

  • Things to Know:

    • MADEINTYO is most known for his single “Uber Everywhere”,

    • Travis Scott remixed "Uber Everywhere" to transform to song into a commercial hit

    • MADEINTYO coined the notable ad lib “Skrr Skrr”

    • MADEINTYO has worked with the likes of 2 Chainz, Big Sean and A$AP Rocky

Anime (Portland, OR)

Notable Songs: Caroline, REDMERCEDES, La Danse

  • Things to Know:

    • Anime’s hit song Caroline was inspired by Outkast’s Roses

    • Anime has made songs with powerhouse producer Kaytranada

    • Anime's latest single REDMERCEDES has a remix featuring Missy Elliot

Ugly God (Houston, TX)

Notable Songs: Water, Bitch!, FTBT

  • Things to Know:

    • Ugly God is completely self produced

    • Ugly God's lyrics are mediocre at best and often times poor but his production balances his lack of bars

Kap G (College Park, GA)

Notable Songs: Rings, Girlfriend, Power

  • Things to Know:

    • Kap G's first single was included in HBO's "Insecure" soundtrack, curated by Solange Knowles

    • Kap G's long-awaited mixtape, "SupaJefe" was released on April 14th

    • Kap G begins his SupaJefe Tour on July 6th

Kyle (Ventura, CA)

Notable Songs: I Spy - Feat. Lil Yatchy, Don’t Wanna Fall In Love

  • Things to Know:

    • Kyle gained mainstream popularity with his single “ I Spy” ft. Lil' Yatchy, despite having two studio albums under his belt

    • Kyle has worked with Chance the Rapper and Boston native, Cousin Stizz

    • Kyle has been referred to as "Drake Lite", however he believes their own styles are different

5 Fresh Things

By: @deoludeolu  Of: @barbarlagos

Try On: ‘John Lennon’ Glasses. As summer settles in, try on a pair of round frame sunglasses, colloquially known as ‘John Lennon’ glasses. Named after the often controversial Beatle who made them famous, these sunnies have been seen on every celebrity from A$AP Rocky to Ariana Grande. The frames found a resurgence in popularity due to  a reference in Rae Sremmurd’s 2016 smash hit (and mannequin challenge soundtrack) ‘Black Beatles.’ Pretty much every brand that makes sunglasses has reimagined the iconic design, adding subtle details to update the classic into something fresh and new, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find your perfect pair.

  Image courtesy GQ Magazine

Image courtesy GQ Magazine

Go Watch: Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime. With all the streaming services available these days, I find myself a bit overwhelmed with choice. Often times I even forget that Amazon produces original content. However, for a short while (till I finished my binge) Sneaky Pete changed that. Giovanni Ribisi (you may recognize him because this guy has been in everything) is exceptional as Marius Josipovic/Pete Murphy, a con man recently released from prison who is trying to get his life back on track. Along with Ribsi, Bryan Cranston, --yes Heisenberg himself--is a supporting actor, co-creator, and staff writer on the series, and kills it in  every role. The show is an amalgamation of sorts: part drama, part comedy, part heist flick and part crime mystery. Unlike Breaking Bad, which started quite slow, Sneaky Pete jumps out the gate, making it the perfect binge watch. The writing is witty, the casting spot on, and though over the top at times, the actors find a way to make the story seem very plausible. In short, the show delivers.
 

Go Watch: House of Cards (Season 5).  The fifth  chapter of the Underwoods’ political circus is a must-watch for all TV fans. The first and second seasons of the show catapulted House of Cards into a stratosphere that most forms of media, let alone TV shows, will never get to. That being said, in my personal opinion, the fifth  season is interesting...but not as interesting as past seasons. Frank is  the most compelling when he’s wheeling and dealing in the shadows, strategizing with a cunning subtlety that is both scary and admirable. In the past,  this is what made the show so damn addictive. However, in this season, his actions seem anything but subtle, clearly a result of the Trump administration’s influence on the show. Still, the show has earned its status as a must watch and this season is still at the top of my Netflix queue.

Listen to: Bryson Tiller's sophomore album, True to Self. Throughout the aptly titled album, Tiller stays true to the sound he cultivated on his first album, Trap Soul.  True to Self provides listeners with a combination of bouncy flows and soulful croons over triple hi-hats, loud kicks, and deep 808 drums.  A healthy mix of slow jams like In Check, a straight R&B tune in which a contrite Tiller acknowledges his romantic shortcomings  and swagged up, banger like Self Made, the album gives listeners a variety of sounds to bop to while still living up to the smoothness Tiller has become known for.

Listen to: MannyWellz. One day, while deep in a music rabbit hole, I stumbled upon Lagos-born, DMV-raised rapper  MannyWellz. It wasn't until I was a  full minute into one of his songs --a track called ‘Alright--that I realized I was listening to a completely reimagined cover of Kendrick Lamar's hit. Shocked and a bit embarrassed that I couldn't recognize it earlier, I ran it back immediately; I had to listen again. That was when I realized MannyWellz is doing something special. As I dove deeper into his catalog, I found his talent went much further: Wellz is a rapper, singer, songwriter and producer, all the while creating music with with an uplifting positive message. In an industry dominated by music that sometimes makes listeners want to swan dive into a pool of promethazine, artists like MannyWellz are a welcome change of pace.

Gidi Culture Festival 2017 Recap

words by: @deoludeolu               images by: @mrxtphr               both of: @barbarlagos

If you couldn't make Gidi Culture Festival or couldn't stand the rain, I’m sorry because it was LIVE.  But luckily I’m here to highlight some of the day’s memorable moments.Firstly, to all the people that left, I empathize with you: there were points during that rain where  I was legitimately concerned. However, besides a little bit of water, wind and a power outage or two, the night was epic.

Before the headliners arrived there were so many wonderful acts but the standouts were definitely Nneka and Simi. Nneka reminded us why her brand of Nigerian folk music has been touching ears and hearts all over the world since 2009, and Simi serenaded the audience with sweet melodies while listeners stood attentively, eagerly awaiting the next note.
 

The party started with Burna Boy. Dressed in all white and looking like the second coming of  Shabba Ranks, the guy killed it. Hitting the crowd with older jams like “Tonight” and “Like to Party,”to  the Temper remix , a more recent collaboration with Skales. Burna's energy was infectious, as jumped around on  stage you couldn't help but move too.
 

After the crowd was adequately gingered, enter Mr. OBO himself, Davido. Honestly, before he came on I’d forgotten how deep this guy’s catalog goes. Although my personal anthem, “Coolest Kids in Africa”, wasn't performed , the set went in: just song after song, hit after hit.The guy peppered them, appropriately closing with the current song of the season, "If.”If you weren't sure it was going to be a party, the moment you heard the crowd of a couple thousand rain-soaked Nigerians yelling "30 billion for the account ohhh", you knew it was on.

Diplo.... where do I even start with Diplo’s performance? Before he even started his set I noticed the aura of coolness emitting from the guy. Imagine this: it's 2 AM  and raining, but the crowd is ready. The first record drops and the crowd erupts; the party starts to get live, only for you to hear the abrupt scratch and screech of a faulty speaker. That’s what happened: the rain coupled with the power outages caused one of the main stage speakers to blow.

I wasn't surprised because, after all, this is Nigeria and we know ourselves. But what did surprise me was Diplo's response. The guy calmly directed the stage hands as they fixed the speaker and continued his set  like he’d never stopped. He even dropped a joke in pidgin. From there it was gone. Seamlessly guiding the crowd through waves of afrobeat, hip-hop, trap and electro house, Diplo displayed his extensive knowledge of the Nigerian music scene--and expanded the audience's taste right there and then.

As Diplo dropped Ed Shereen’s “Shape of You,” Walshy Fire (⅓ of Major Lazer) called out Vanessa’s Mdee’s dancers to give the crowd a little shapely entertainment. When one particularly talented dancer jumped into the air and landed in a full split, the crowd erupted. Amidst the cheers I thought to myself with all that  . . . ummmm  . . . shapliness . .  how does she stay so limber?  Anyway, Walshy continued to put on for Nigeria. The self-proclaimed “Bahd Jamaican” dropped special dubs of Mr. Eazi’s “Leg Over” and Tekno’s “Pana,” making the audience go crazy. The night was truly special, andI hope  more people take cues from Gidi Culture Festival and invest in  Lagos’s arts and culture scene. It’s necessary.

5 Fresh Things

By: @deoludeolu  Of: @barbarlagos

Listen to: Mir Fontane. I first heard Mir Fontane in 2015 on the song "Wanni Wag,” a track that plays homage to fellow Camden, NJ-native and former Cleveland Cavalier, Dejuan Wagner. Since then, I've been a fan. In 2016, Fontane dropped his debut mixtape, Who's Watching the Kids. Despite being received with little interest from the hip hop community, the album was absolute fire. Fontane shows his versatility throughout the project, with songs ranging from bangers like  “Whatever I Want” to the croony, softer vocals on “Bill Collector”. Beyond the differences in sound, Fontane's story telling ability is elite. On “Kenwood Ave”,  he follows in the steps of Nas' “Rewind, walking listeners through a drug deal gone wrong...backwards, end to beginning, complete with reversed imagery. Keep an eye on this kid; I'm expecting big things from him in the future.

Listen to: Crimetown (Podcast). First of all, if you don't listen to podcasts, you should. As enjoyable as a morning radio show may be, try swapping it out for a podcast or an audiobook in the morning to stimulate the mind in a different way. If you’re looking for a podcast to start out with, try Crimetown, the show is impeccably by Zac Stuart-Pointer and Marc Smerling, the men behind HBO’s The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. The show is an investigation on the culture of organized crime across America, the story begins in Providence, Rhode Island, a sleepy New England city once home to the third largest Italian mafia syndicate in the United States. Gritty, riveting and shockingly true, Crimetown is a work Scorcese himself would approve of. If gangster movies are your thing, this podcast is for you.  

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Go Watch: Noname’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert. The Chicago-based rapper set the NPR offices ablaze, all the while rocking a vintage bugle boy rugby. Noname's mumbling flow seemed to effortlessly glide over the instrumentals of her four-piece live band. With the current state of women in hip hop, :cough: Remy and Nicki :cough: Noname is a breath of fresh air. Her message is completely positive and she comes off completely authentic and genuine. Her poetic flows and conscious lyrics resemble a deep conversation between friends rather than manufactured homily. Co-signed by Chance the Rapper, Noname offers a much-needed counterpoint to the sexually-driven flows dominating hip-hop today.  Noname reminds us that female emcees have more to offer than big butts and explicit lyrics. Not that I dislike either of those things, I’m just saying.

Try On: Nike Air Jordan XI Low in Columbia Blue and White. Few sneakers have caused as much fanfare as the Nike Air Jordan XI. Commonly referred to as the 11's, the sneaker was originally released in 1995, a very interesting time during Jordan’s career. Legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield, had just put out two, in my opinion, lackluster designs in the Jordan IX and X and MJ, freshly out of  retirement that spring, was in the process of leading the Chicago Bulls in a playoff run. And then, exactly on cue, enter the 11's. The world had never seen a sneaker like them, minimalist in aesthetic, comfortable and functional in design and with a patent leather toe echoing the look of a dress shoe. I remember my father acknowledging the uniqueness and beauty of the shoe . . . right before telling me he wasn’t buying them. Anyway, since the first retro dropped in the spring 2000, Nike has been annually releasing different colorways of the 11’s just in time for Christmas and the summer, and now they will be available again, April 15th.  

Go Read: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This timely novel, recently awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, narrates the history of enslaved Africans in America with one key difference: the Underground Railroad, a tangle of routes used by slaves escaping  to freedom, is re-imagined as a literal train. The book follows friends Cora and Caesar on their journey northward from their Georgia plantation as they make their way to freedom, trailing them as they come in contact with fellow escapees and slave-catchers alike. With Amazon having recently optioned the novel as a project to be written and directed by Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins, the fraught exploration of race and civil rights in Whitehead’s work is sure to be on everyone’s lips for a while.

5 Fresh Things

By: @deoludeolu Of: @barbarlagos

Listen to: Syd the Kyd's debut solo album Fin.  Formerly a member of Tyler the Creator's Odd Future music collective, Syd has been laying down sultry soulful vocals for quite some time now, first featuring on Tyler the Creator’s Goblin and then  as the front woman of Grammy-nominated  neo-soul band, The Internet. While The Internet have established themselves as a force in the R&B space--check out their work, if you’re not already on it--Syd really goes in on her solo work, plain and simple. Laying her unique, smooth vocals over an array of carefully curated beats that showcase her range and versatility, Syd really does present listeners with a menu of all she can do. To purchase the album click here.

Syd Fin ALbum.jpg

Listen to: "Money on the Road" by TG Milian x Naira Marley x Blanco. A collaboration between Harlem Spartan members TG Millian and Blanco and emerging Nigerian-born, South London-raised rapper Naira Marley, the track sits comfortably at the intersection of Drill, Grime, and Afrobeat, pioneering a new pan-diasporic sound. The Harlem Spartans have just begun popping up as artists to watch in 2017, and I’m excited to hear what else they have to offer. To have a listen click here.

Harlem Spartans.jpg

Go Watch: Humble by Kendrick Lamar (Music Video). I'm just going to call it: this is one of the best videos of 2017, if not THE best video of the  year, and yes I know it's only April.  If Kdot doesn't win a notable award for this video, something is very wrong with the awards system (word to Macklemore at the Grammy's). Kendrick’s decision to drop such iconic visuals couldn’t come at a more perfect time: just as hip hop fans had settled into More Life and prepared to give Drake the crown, Lamar steps in and says “not so fast, we outchea too.”

Try on: Nike Air Max '97 Silver Bullet. With 2017 marking the 20th anniversary of this iconic sneaker’s debut, Nike has decided to launch a strategic re-release in the American and European markets. For those of you who don’t know, the '97's revolutionized streetwear and solidified the place of the Air Max as a cornerstone in sneaker culture. Unlike the ‘95s and Air Max 1’s before them, the ‘97s perfected the balance of looking simultaneously futuristic and vintage, while also being functional--they’re one of the few pairs of vintage Nikes you can run in, although I wouldn’t recommend it. Beyond that, the sole of the ‘97s became the go-to base for other iconic sneakers like the Air Max ‘98, Air Max Deluxe and the Nike Tuned Air. And did I mention that they’re silver? Yeah, they’re silver.

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Go To: The Gidi Culture Festival at the  Eko Atlantic on Victoria Island. On April 15, 2017, Lagos will host the 4th annual  Gidi Culture Festival aka GidiFest. The one-day event boasts a star-studded lineup of musicians including Davido, Burna Boy, Reekado Banks, Sauti Sol and Diplo. If the talent didn’t convince you, the event is full of other activities, including a funzone equipped with a bouncy castle for kids and the young at heart, beach soccer matches, and of course tons of grub and shaks for the foodies. This will be one of the dopest events in Lagos this year, so make sure to grab your tickets early. Tickets sold here.

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